By KEVIN HARRIS
The sectional championship drought is finally over for the Floyd Central wrestling team.
After watching archrival Jeffersonville capture the Jeffersonville Sectional title the past four years, the Highlanders claimed the crown for the first time since 2008 on Saturday at Johnson Arena. Floyd scored 284 points and had six individual sectional champions. It was Floyd Central’s 25th sectional championship overall.
The Red Devils finished second with 226 points, followed by New Albany with 189. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advanced to next Saturday’s Jeff Regional.
Floyd Central coach Brandon Sisson said the sectional title means a lot to his seniors.
“These guys have picked up some lumps over the past three years,” said Sisson, who was a Highlander assistant coach when the program won its previous sectional title in ’08. “These guys have worked hard in the [wrestling] room, year-in and year-out. It was their goal to get us back to where we are supposed to be. They’ve bought into what the coaches were saying, and they did a great job bringing us back.
“It’s been a long time coming for me. It’s my fifth year as head coach and we’ve been close a couple of times. It’s nice to get over the hump.”
Leading Floyd Central’s six champions was senior Terrance Kennedy. He improved his record to 33-0 by dominating his three matches in the 106-pound division.
Kennedy pinned New Albany’s Lunden Bradford at the 1:20 mark in the first round. He then won by technical fall (17-2) in the semifinals over Corydon Central’s Mason Kaufer, followed by another technical fall victory over Jeff’s Stevie Jones in the final (20-5).
“It feels pretty good,” Kennedy said about the Highlanders recapturing the team sectional championship. “We haven’t won it in five years and we really worked hard to get to this point.”
Cory Troutman had Floyd Central’s gutsiest performances in the sectional.
The junior dislocated his kneecap during the 138-pound final against New Washington senior Brady Meenach, but he kept wrestling. Trailing by 7-2 entering the third period, Troutman rallied to knock off Meenach, 11-10.
“That’s tough to overcome when you are healthy,” Sisson said. “He dug deep and pulled out a really, really tough match.”
Floyd Central’s other four champions were seniors John Meldrum (152 pounds), Brennan Banet (195) and Nick Ottersbach (220) and junior Chase Herron (160). Banet and Ottersbach pinned each of their three opponents.
The Highlanders had four grapplers earn runner-up spots in Sean Brown (113), Chris Whitley (120), Austin Ward (126) and Ian Bagwell (170). Finishing third for Floyd Central were Kolton Popp (132), George Emily (145) and Franklin Korte (285).
Popp was a substitute for teammate Tre Marler, who was inactive for the sectional because of a back injury after being named the No. 1 seed at 132 earlier in the week.
“We can actually wrestle better. We lost some matches we probably should’ve won,” Sisson said. “We were supposed to have 13 in the finals and we only had 10. Last year, we had seven champs and this year we had six.
“It was more of a team effort this year and we did wrestle really well. We’re going to have to wrestle better as the weeks go on.”
One Highlander who did not advance to regional was Jackson Randall. The senior reaggravated a shoulder injury during his 182-pound semifinal and had to default. He also had to default the fifth-place match.
Jeff had two sectional champions in senior Jasi Coureur (113) and junior Gavan Jolley-Little (285).
It was sweet redemption for Coureur after he did not compete in last year’s sectional because of a broken hand. He won his first two matches by pin and then defeated Brown by major decision in the 113-pound title bout, 14-5.
“I drank a lot of milk this weekend and during the week because I wanted to make sure I made it here,” Coureur said. “I was quite focused and I was very ready to prove myself. I knew in my mind that I could do great things. I was twice as pumped as I would’ve been last year.”
Jolley-Little cruised to his sectional championship. He pinned Providence’s Justin Wheatley in the first round at the 1:19 mark and then pinned Korte in the semifinal at the 2:29 mark. Jolley-Little proceeded to defeat New Albany senior James Searcy in the final by major decision, 11-0.
The Red Devils finished short of their goal of having a regional qualifier in all 14 weight classes. They will have 11 grapplers at next weekend’s regional.
Jones, senior Oscar DeLeon (132), senior Tyler Fridley (152) and junior Brandon Spangler (182) each finished second for Jeff. Placing third for the Devils were Nick Stewart (138), David Fridley (160), Daniel Thompson (170) and Gary Gaines (220). Jeff junior Xavier Weekley earned his regional berth by finishing fourth at 126 pounds.
“I’m honestly pretty happy,” Red Devils’ coach Danny Struck said. “I don’t like to lose, but we had six in the finals and we were seeded to have five. We have 11 going on [to regional] and we were seeded to have 10. Everybody on our team got at or above their seeds, and even in years we’ve won, we’ve never done that. We were seeded to lose by 100 and we lost by 58. We wrestled that tough schedule and it proved that it helped [the Red Devils] improve.”
New Albany had 10 regional qualifiers, with three of them collecting sectional championships.
Senior Austin Jamison defeated Ward by a 3-1 decision to win the 126-pound final. Sophomore Hunter Castleberry beat New Washington junior Yancey Crase in the 145-pound title bout with a 4-2 decision. Senior Ethan Lee, who was a three seed, knocked off Bagwell, the top seed, in the 170-pound final with a 3-2 decision in overtime.
Joining Searcy as a second-place finishers for New Albany was senior Nick Lynch (195). Bulldog juniors Bryce Peavler (120) and Hunter Langley (152) each placed third. New Albany had three fourth-place finishers in Damon Dillon (113), Tre Lynch (132) and David Harrison (182).
“All in all, the kids did a good job today. They all wrestled very well and I’m really pleased,” Bulldogs’ coach Eric Burres said. “I was hoping to get 10 or 11 kids out and I think we ended up with 10 kids. They came and competed.”
One week after winning the Mid-Southern Conference title, Charlestown wound up fifth at sectional with 120 points.
Six Pirates advanced to regional. Charlestown junior Luke Woods (106) and senior Zach Green (195) each finished third. Placing fourth for the Pirates were Bryant Haynes (120), Cameron Stuart (138), Zach Higdon (160) and Dakota Stevenson (285).
New Washington ended up sixth in the team standings with 104 points.
Four Mustangs will return to Jeff next weekend for the regional. The other New Washington runner-up besides Meenach and Crase was junior Jacob Franklin at 160 pounds. Mustang freshman James Wise (126) wound up third.
Providence had three wrestlers qualify for regional, as it placed eighth as a team with 65 points.
Pioneer sophomore Matthew Hayes won the 182-pound sectional title by beating Spangler by major decision, 9-1.
Hayes pinned Corydon’s Wyler Taylor in the first round at the 1:44 mark and then defeated Charlestown senior Seth McCutchen in the semifinal by a 9-4 decision.
Christian Academy finished ninth in the team standings with 16 points. No Warriors advanced to the regional as juniors Daniel Doty (126) and Trey Sturdy (138) each placed fifth.
Eastern finished seventh with 92 points. Four Musketeers earned regional berths in Jordan Gray (113), Brayton Brading (152), Luke Terry (170) and Brian Arnold (220).